On Monday, I posted about a new effort that I’m working on to vote no on William McGuiness. I’ve got a website up and going at NoMcGuiness.com. I must say that Blogger is quite convenient for these type of things. I wanted to cover some more on the subject, because this election, we have an opportunity to push back at the Right. In a very real way. Well, at least if you are in the First District.
But some background on William McGuiness. You can find a profile here. He was appointed to the Appellate Court in 1997 by Pete Wilson after serving in the Reagan Justice Dept. and a Superior Court Judge for a long time. Now, I don’t have any problems with his qualifications. I think he’s very qualified. That’s not the issue. William McGuiness made a terrible decision in In Re Marriage Cases, a decision that says that separate but equal is jolly ok with the California Constitution. A decision that denies equality for a substantial segment of Californians. That is not ok.
More in the extended…
Now, I would like to interject here that I believe the judiciary should be completely independent of the voters. The saga of Rose Bird should not be repeated. But that’s the problem. The only saga of Rose Bird is the saga of Rose Bird. Rose Bird, along with Justices Reynoso and Grodin, was attacked from the Right over her decisions on the Death Penalty. Rose Bird had a deeply held-conviction, a conviction that the death penalty was cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment. It’s clearly a defensible position, but the majority interfered with the judiciary. When these three Justices were booted, our Judiciary was thrown into a tailspin. George Deukmejian appointed three conservative Justices, including Chief Justice Malcolm Lucas, who steered the California Judiciary away from the powerful traditions of Justice Traynor.
And again the Right pushed back in 1998. Anti-choice forces decided to pick a fight with Justice Ming Chin and Chief Justice Ronald George, both Republicans. They were “disappointed” with them because both of them voted to strike down a law that required parental notification. They both remember that. They remember that the Right challenges them, but the Left doesn’t. And so, where the moderates would vote their conscience, vote for what they know is right, vote for equality, and vote for civl rights, they have to consider the reaction of the Right.
This is no way to run our Judiciary. John Marshall, our first, and some would say our greatest, Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, envisioned a Judiciary that held a real check on the legislature. In Federalist 78, Alexander Hamilton argued that Judges need to be independent in order to resist the oppression of the representative body:
According to the plan of the convention, all judges who may be appointed by the United States are to hold their offices DURING GOOD BEHAVIOR; which is conformable to the most approved of the State constitutions and among the rest, to that of this State. Its propriety having been drawn into question by the adversaries of that plan, is no light symptom of the rage for objection, which disorders their imaginations and judgments. The standard of good behavior for the continuance in office of the judicial magistracy, is certainly one of the most valuable of the modern improvements in the practice of government. In a monarchy it is an excellent barrier to the despotism of the prince; in a republic it is a no less excellent barrier to the encroachments and oppressions of the representative body. And it is the best expedient which can be devised in any government, to secure a steady, upright, and impartial administration of the laws.
Thus, Hamilton argued, the Judiciary should be independent in order to protect the rights of the minority. The power of judicial review is clearly countermajoratarian, but just as clearly, it is so for good reason. That the Constitution did not crumble at the time of Marbury is evidence enough that people understood that. And Alexis De Tocqueville clearly understood the oppressive power of the majority as well. In fact, De Tocqueville argued that the majority could be more oppressive than a monarchy because the authenticity of public opinion granted more moral power than a Crown could ever grant.
Our Judiciary needs to be independent of public opinion, free to make their own decisions. Unfortunately, this is not the way of the California judiciary. Here we have elections and judges are accountable to the majority, for better or worse. And, as discussed above, the Right has used this fact to dispose of Rose Bird, and to fire a warning shot across the bow of Justices in 1998. The Right attacks the Judiciary in whatever ways they find convenient. They have “Justice Sundays” in Washington, D.C. where they denounce “activist” judges who dare stand up for the rights of a minority, such as Justice Kennedy in Lawrence v. Texas. And all of this creates a Right-ward drift. We put our faith in the Judiciary system, The Right puts a Boot in its Ass.
Thus, we need to push back. If we continue to let the Right move the discourse, we will soon find ourselves in very uncomfortable waters. Justice William McGuiness is only marginally more culpable in the decision in In Re Marriage Cases than Justice Parrilli, who concurred with the opinion. McGuiness, however, actually claims authorship in this drivel(PDF). But in an independent Judiciary, that drivel would be beyond my protestations other than the appeal process.
However, fortunately for us, Justice William McGuiness is up for election on Nov. 7. This opportunity presents itself very rarely. By pushing this, we can send a message to all judges that they cannot sell out Equality, and the Constitution of the State of California, to appease the Right.